It's July 28th, fifteen years ago, and we meet on a beach in Connecticut. Oh, we are still so far then from where we are now—married, a mortgage, nervous plans for that second bedroom—and it's summer in suburbia, and I'm just a bored teenager who thinks nothing interesting is ever going to happen to me, and then you ride in on your bike, and it's like everything clicks on.
After that, there's a line straight down the middle of my life: a before and an after. Part A and part B. Without you, without you, without you—then with you.
I make a vet appointment for the cat. You're supposed to take him in, but you forget to take him in, so I call the vet and I apologize.
"I'm so sorry," I say. "My husband was supposed to bring him in, and he forgot."
I make a noise of irritation in the back of my throat, an ugly sound, like a motor starting. "I guess I'll have to do it now."
In this moment I hear myself, and I sound like an angry sitcom woman berating her hapless husband and I think how did I get like this? How did I get so old and obvious? and I take a deep breath and think back to you on the beach, the first time I saw you, the hope and the promise. I think of a time when you weren't the idiot who forgot to take the cat to the vet after I'd reminded you a million times, but to when you were still the future, the future, the future, all unknown and shiny and new.
I have never been able to describe, accurately, how it felt to meet you. This is frustrating for me; I make my living describing things accurately. But here is the thing: I just knew.
"Love at first sight?" people ask teasingly, when you tell them something like that.
"Not love at first sight," I say, nose wrinkled with the effort of trying to explain. "Feeling at first sight. Just a feeling."
Eleven days before I saw you for the first time, a TWA flight exploded into the ocean near New York. Pieces of debris washed up on the beach where we met, and they told us on the news not to swim there for a while, that the Long Island Sound might be contaminated, or more contaminated than usual.
I'd forgotten that: a major plane crash, a national tragedy. How could I have forgotten that? It was swallowed up by the memory of meeting you.
This is just a quiet observation about the passage of time. There is no need for sappiness, for ruminations on love or fate or intuition, or any of that. This is just a date, July 28th, that I carry with me in the compartment that contains all of our other dates, all those other notches marking the steady accumulation of time.
But here's something. When we get to this day next year, I will have known you for exactly half my life. I will have known you, by then, for as long as I haven't known you, the date balancing there in the middle like the pivot on a seesaw. And after that, in the years that follow, we'll have passed something, I think. A threshold. A new frontier.